Unboxing the Silents: Lois Weber’s Sensation Seekers and A Chapter in Her Life on Bluray

Pioneering director Lois Weber is enjoying a bit of a renaissance these days but, for the most part, the films that have been released have been from her days of sharing credit with husband Phillips Smalley. While Weber was the acknowledged brains of the outfit at the time, the decline of her career after her divorce has led to speculation that Weber needed a man in order to succeed.

The obvious way to approach this revisionism is to examine Weber’s post-Smalley work and see if she displayed the same skills behind the camera without a “strong masculine presence.” Unfortunately, high quality releases of Weber’s later work have been scarce on the ground until now.

Kino Lorber has released two later Weber pictures, Sensation Seekers (1927) and A Chapter in Her Life (1923) on Bluray. Thanks to Kino for the review copy.

Sensation Seekers is the headline feature. It has been available on budget discs for years but only as a lower quality, truncated release. The edition released by Kino is a full half-hour longer and features a jazzy, modern score by Arthur Barrow, as well as a commentary by film historian and Weber biographer Shelley Stamp. The image quality is excellent (with the caveat that small imperfections are inevitable in films of this age), which comes especially in handy during the epic stormy shipwreck sequence.

A Chapter in Her Life is a quieter film that focuses on a child protagonist. The score by Alexandra Harwood is more of a traditional orchestra affair and is quite lovely. Again, the image quality is very good.

This release is an important missing piece in the story of Lois Weber and the jump in quality for Sensation Seekers makes this a serious upgrade even if you already own the film. Universal/Kino continues to impress with the high quality music included with their releases.

You can purchase the disc here. (Disclosure: I earn a small commission from affiliate sales.) Shelley Stamp’s Lois Weber in Early Hollywood is also available.

Giveaway

Kino has also been nice enough to sponsor a giveaway of a Bluray copy of these films. It’s open to U.S.A. shipping addresses only. To enter, here’s what you must do:

  1. Leave a comment telling me why you want to own the disc.
  2. I will randomly select the winner on May 7, 2021.
  3. If the winner does not respond in five days, I will draw an alternate.

Easy, right?

☙❦❧

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17 Comments

  1. bdavisshannon

    So excited about this release! Not because of the solo element (Smalley’s own career separate from Weber speaks volumes), but because we see so few Weber movies that aren’t explicitly message movies!

  2. Kenneth Henderson

    I will be buying this disc as I do all dvd & blu rays that come out from legitimate sources. Too much is needlessly lost forever.

  3. Isaiah

    I’d like this disc to explore and learn more about women in the early film industry, and to recognize and view their contributions to the art form

  4. cinemahouston

    The Blot has been Weber’s most accessible work, shown on TCM and available in different formats over the years. Only in recent years has more of her work become available to the masses. This is a tremendous release. Kino Lorber is to be applauded for another great contribution. Likewise, thank you for your coverage.

  5. davidwelling

    The Blot has been Weber’s most accessible work, shown on TCM and available in different formats over the years. Only in recent years has more of her work become available to the masses. This is a tremendous release. Kino Lorber is to be applauded for another great contribution. Likewise, thank you for your coverage.

  6. Dan

    I’d like the disc because I’m not familiar with her work. I’m learning a lot about silent film and want to get away from the well known films and more into the more forgotten.

  7. Nannina

    I just love Lois Weber’s work and really want to see more of it, I’m also intrigued as to the fact of these being later works as most of her films I’ve seen are from the mid-teens.

  8. Stuart Cook

    These movies look like great examples of Ms. Weber’s work which I have not yet seen. Weber was THE female director of the silent era, and her work is not widely seen–but really need to be.

  9. Barry Kemp

    Kino does an amazing job with releases and provides a catalog of hard to find films. I’d like to receive this movie because I’d like to discover more silent pictures.

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